Weird movie reminds goers of chilled out 'Pulp Fiction'

By Veronica Hirsch

Arizona Summer Wildcat

It's creepy. It's weird. It's "Better Off Dead" all grown up. It's a chilled-out "Pulp Fiction." It's "Blue Velvet" without the ear.

And Christopher Walken sings.

"Search and Destroy" is one of those movies that feels like it's just an excuse to get a whole bunch of famous and quirky actors together in one movie. But if it is, I don't care.

The ticket price gets you Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, John Turturro, Griffin Dunne, Ethan Hawke, Rosanna Arquette, and even Martin Scorcese himself (the film's executive producer) in a sly cameo as a tax collector.

The basic story is that there's this guy, this supreme-o loser, Martin

Mirkheim (Dunne). He's the kind of guy who wonders why all the other encyclopedia salesman are making money and he's not. He's inept and bungling, but at least he keeps trying. His main source of inspiration is late-night "motivational speaker" Dr. Luther Waxling (Hopper.)

Waxling has written a book, "Daniel Strong" that Martin decides he wants/needs, to make into a movie. But first he needs to get enough money to buy the rights to the book from Waxling, and the trouble is, Martin is broke.

It's Martin's search for money that drives the film, but since I hate to give away such a delicious story, I will only say that the drug deals, alien spine-suckers, geisha girls and a butcher's scale all have a place in this movie.

But acting is the real reason to see this movie. Hopper ("Red Rock West") is great as the impatient infomercial guru, and it's always fun to see him flip out.

Walken ("The King of New York") projects a blank malevolence, even when he's being nice, and Turturro ("Quiz Show") almost steals the show as Walken's hysterical New York "pal."

Dunne, as Martin, has the hardest role, since he has to be a really irritating man, and also the only "normal" person in the film. But Dunne handles it great, since he's used to playing your average-guy geek who wanders into insanity, having played the same character in "American Werewolf in London," "Who's That Girl," and "AfterHours."

Director David Salle is Scorcese's newest protege and there is a strong sense of apprenticeship here "Search and Destroy" bears more than a striking resemblance in tone to Scorcese's 1985 black comedy "After Hours".

"Search and Destroy" is based on the play by Howard Korder, and, in my opinion, that accounts for the play's dialog-heavy "action." But it's a perfect vehicle for these talented actors.

"Search and Destroy" is playing at the Loft Cinema. Bring your student ID and get in for $3.50.

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